LXBN Leaders: Stuart Kaplow builds a following and a business with attitude

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This post originally appeared on LXBN as part of our LXBN Leaders series—highlighting a member of the LexBlog Network each week.

Stuart Kaplow took over a successful blog two years ago. Since then it’s only gotten bigger.

The original author decided to pursue other opportunities, and as a reader of the blog who also knew the author Kaplow was in a unique position to take the reins. From there the current Green Building Law Update got started. And while it’s quite a niche subject, Kaplow says it’s perfect for blogging.

“This is an emerging body of law; it’s new, it’s fast-growing, and it’s evolving…When I originally got into this area nine years ago, I used to say green building law remakes itself every two years. Now I’d say it’s every year. This is such a changing area of law, waiting to print a textbook and read it isn’t going to work. The blog is a wonderful way to stay current—and that’s why people read,” said Kaplow.Kaplow-Headshot-8972

However, not all the people who read are necessarily fans of his opinions. According to Kaplow, his primary audience is not lawyers, but the “broader environmental industrial complex,” and that leads to some discord.

“I write with the point of view of a pro-business blog. And I write with an attitude. I suspect some of my readers don’t agree with that attitude—[or rather] as I could regularly tell from the comments it’s clear that many of my readers don’t agree—but they read because there’s not a lot of other sources for information on the hot topics of the day in sustainability and green building law that articulate a reasoned perspective on the subject,” said Kaplow, who knows there’s not a lot of discourse around green building law, much less from lawyers. “I accept that while much of my goal is to try to influence this new and emerging body of law, this parallel purpose of getting business is key. And while I regularly offend someone, I’m not regularly offending everyone.”

Even with the divided feedback, blogging has been quite the rewarding experience for Kaplow. These days he uses the blog once a day to cite as an example or fact to clients, potential clients, or other interested parties. His blog posts regularly include links to primary source materials like statute regulations or other government policy, which are sometimes so new they’re not otherwise available.

He speaks a lot at conventions and tells his readers that if they’ll be at the same conference he’s open to getting a drink. At the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference last year he says it felt like all he did was eat and grab drinks with interested readers.

Knowing that, it’s no surprise that the blog has more than exceeded his wildest expectations for his business.

“The blog is an embarrassing success, in the sense that, second only to business from existing clients, this is the greatest source of business for both my law firm and its non-law subsidiary,” said Kaplow. “I have done away with a business card now, I just have a card that says I blog and includes a QR code.”

Since Kaplow started blogging two years ago, he expanded the focus of the Green Building Law Update from purely green building law to sustainability in general. From that platform he’s been able to dive into an emergent body of law headfirst; assisting the law in maturing and evolving in any way he can. Luckily that just so happens to get his name out there as a knowledge base for these issues.

“The body of law has grown so dramatically in the two years I’ve been blogging. I can’t say I had a grand plan, I was simply trying to grab on the tail and hold on,” said Kaplow. “If I had more time I’d write more, but I have to also make time to do all this work I’m generating.”

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